A Manassas man will now spend the rest of his life in prison, after a Prince William County judge found Joaquin S. Rams guilty of murdering his own toddler. Rams killed his 15-month-old son in October 2012, with the goal of collecting $524,000 in life insurance benefits.

As he read the verdict, Circuit Court Judge Randy I. Bellows noted how Rams took out three life insurance policies on his young son, lying on the applications and concealing the policies from the child’s mother.

In an interview Thursday, family members expressed relief that the ordeal lasting longer than four years had finally ended. The child, Prince McLeod Rams, would have turned six this year.

“I'm just so grateful that I had the chance to know [Prince],” said Hera McLeod, the toddler’s mother. “I am proud of him, that he was the one who finally got this horrible man off the streets.”

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Rams agreed to waive his right to a jury trial, and in exchange, prosecutors spared him the death penalty. A life sentence without parole is now the only possible punishment for Rams, in addition to a separate sentence for one count of insurance fraud.

“He's a bad seed, there's nothing else I can think of,” Rams’ half-brother Joseph Velez said in an interview Thursday. “He didn't do drugs, he was never mistreated. We loved him.”

The toddler never recovered from severe brain damage, after Rams held him under water in a bathtub Oct. 20, 2012. Bellows noted how the trajectory of the defendant’s finances was on a downward spiral, as he lived off funds from his mother’s life insurance policy to pay his bills.

<p>(Photo: Prince William County Police)</p>

“The defense has said the child’s life insurance policies were a way to save for Prince’s future, and at worst, Rams was simply naïve and unsophisticated,” Bellows said. “The court found no merit to that argument.”

McLeod told reporters she has since left the area, and no longer felt safe after the loss of her son. She now has a three-year-old daughter, and said her thoughts dwelled on her son, not Rams, during the verdict.

“I’m just sad that Prince had to go through what he went through,” McLeod said. “Because he was only here for 15 months. And he trusted Joaquin.”